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Human Right Course
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What are human rights?
The history of human rights
In the really old days..
the middle class and the development of cicil and political rights
the working class and the development of economic, social and cultural rights
World war II and the founding of the UN
Universial declartion of human rights
Human rights in our time
What right do we have?
The protection of Human Rights
Human rights in everyday life
Human Rights

Did you know

Did you know that the Norwegian Constitution guaranteed citizens some human rights as early as 1814?




As industry became as common as agriculture a new social class emerged. The middle class, as it was called, earned its own money and consisted of factory owners, engineers, lawyers, doctors and others. They fought for their right to more freedom: freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and, not least, economic freedom, i.e. the right to trade and run their own businesses without interference from the state.

At the end of the 1700s these new social groups rebelled in America and France, and demanded more rights. After these two “freedom revolutions” as they were called, human rights were transformed into law in these countries. The new governments wrote two important documents: “the American Declaration of Independence in 1776” and “the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789”. Modern American and French societies are based on these documents.

The documents also heavily influenced the rest of the world and several countries followed their lead. Human rights were incorporated into many European constitutions. The Norwegian Constitution from 1814, for example, ensures individual rights such as freedom of expression, commercial freedom, the protection of property rights, the right not to be punished without being convicted, and so on.

Even though human rights gained a place in very influential documents there were still more theory than practice at that time, and they did not apply to everyone. In many countries only freemen with property, i.e. the upper class and the new middle class, had rights. Women were completely ignored.



The French revolution in 1789 was a class war. The rebels wanted to get rid of the absolute monarchy and transfer the King’s power to the people. Their slogan was “liberty, equality and fraternity”. France adopted the world’s first declaration of human rights and, in 1791, a new constitution. The richest men gained most of the power.

When Europeans first started to settle in North America in the 1600s they were welcomed by the Native Americans who already lived there. However, conflicts broke out when the Europeans began to take areas of land from the Native Americans. The conflicts developed into one of history’s most glaring examples of racial discrimination and genocide.

Fact box

At the end of the 1700s the British ruled the coastal areas of North America where European immigrants had already lived for more than 100 years. They demanded tax from the people, which led to the American War of Independence starting in 1775. The Declaration of Independence was signed one year later.

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